Katherine and The Mystery of the Pet-Napped Pillow

Katherine got a code kit (it showed her several ways to create coded messages) and a detective book this year for Christmas, and she loved them.  She loved them so much, in fact, that she asked CJ and I to create a mystery for her to solve.  We thought that would be a great idea, and spent a few hours putting one together.

CJ was the real mastermind behind this nefarious deed.  She decided that we should pet-nap one of Katherine’s other gifts – a unicorn Pillow PetTM – and then leave her a trail to follow to find it.  We created and planted most of the clues up front, and were able to steal the unicorn for a few minutes to create the ransom note pic, and then replaced it so Katherine wouldn’t notice it was gone.


Yes, the unicorn really is bound and gagged.

The morning that we were going to kick off the mystery, Katherine woke up and went to the bathroom.  CJ snuck in to her room, snagged the unicorn, put the ransom note in its place, tied it up again, and put it in her closet.  I had to leave for work before Katherine got back to her room to discover the pet-napping, so I heard about all of this when I got home that night.

Now, mind you, Katherine did not realize what we were going to do for a mystery, so the discovery of a ransom note on her bed with the above picture was a bit of a shock to her.  So much so, that she actually was on the verge of tears.  CJ felt so bad that she snuck back into her room, untied the unicorn’s mouth, took another picture of it smiling, and brought it out for Katherine to see.


“See, honey?  The unicorn is still happy.  He’s having fun playing along.”  That went a long way to helping Katherine calm down.  Once Katherine got into the mystery, she had a lot of fun with it.  She was very proud of the fact that she solved it before I got home.

So, without further ado, here is the mystery that CJ and I set up:


First the ransom note consisted of letters that appeared to come from a color ad of some sort.  One of the letter O’s was actually the red circular Target logo. With a little prompting, Katherine figured out that the ad must be in the paper-recycling bag in our kitchen.


A quick search turned up the ad, sliced and diced.  In the ad was a handwritten note from one of the pet-nappers, mentioning our front room curtains.


Katherine canvased the front window, only to find a couple of fibers stuck to a piece of tape.


After careful analysis by our crack investigator, Katherine determined that the distinctive fibers were actually from a blanket in the front room.  In the folds of the blanket, she found a coded message.


The message was in Morse code, and Katherine took great care in decrypting it.



Now, we have many windows in our house, but the unicorn only ever traveled between two rooms – the living room and Katherine’s bedroom.  That greatly narrowed down the possibilities for the window mentioned in the message.  Katherine got bundled up and made a close inspection of the area outside those two windows, hoping to find a clue.  She wasn’t disappointed.  Near one of the windows, in otherwise undisturbed snow, she found a boot print.


That led her to check the boots in the house, looking for a match.  In one of them, she found a piece of toy food.


That sparked a memory of where she had last seen it – downstairs in her toy kitchen.  Katherine, now in hot pursuit, ran downstairs to check the kitchen.  She noticed something peculiar in her toy microwave – a candy cane and what appeared to be some tinsel.


Those clues led her back upstairs to the Christmas tree.  Obviously the pet-nappers were trying to throw her off the scent, but our crack investigator could smell a rat.  A search of the tree turned up an MP3 player, cued up to an odd audio message from one of the pet-nappers.


I contain thousands of words, but do not tell a tale.
Ask me “What does that mean?” and I will not fail.
To read all of me might fill a week.
So, ask yourself, “What creature do I seek?”


Katherine quickly cut threw the smokescreen, and grabbed her dictionary, looking for the page talking about “unicorns”.


In it, she found a piece of paper with this message:

Joe buy this.  Perfect for ransom note: http://bit.ly/44bgVN


With the help of the internets, Katherine following the link to a picture of a Hewlett-Packard printer-scanner, just like what we have in our basement (hmmm – what an odd coincidence).


Katherine raced downstairs again and found another version of the ransom note picture left on the scan bed.


This one, however, was not cropped like the first one, and showed enough of the unicorn’s surroundings that Katherine was able to determine it was being held upstairs in CJ’s closet.  She found the unicorn, unharmed, and greatly relieved to be reunited with Katherine.


Katherine was unfortunately not able to apprehend the pet-nappers at this time.  If she had, I’m sure we would have heard “…and we would have gotten away with it too if it weren’t for that pesky kid!”